Coded bodies - disciplined bodies. Female genital cutting. Ritual wounding as status symbol
This empirical study on female genital cutting among the Arbore in Southern Ethiopia is based on fieldwork between 1993-99. Peller introduces her approach, methods, and cognitive interest (based on mutuality and equal status). Regarding the ritual in question, she comments on forms of communication, ritual as a technique of remembering, passage rites, and pain. She discusses how women are situated in Arbore society, and compares female socio-genesis of the Hamar and Arbore, followed by a detailed description of types of genital mutilation, the process itself and its ´technology´, as well as medical aspects such as mortality, fertility, complications, Aids. A long chapter focuses on ´reform´ - possible change: innovative forces, economy and migration, honor, the roles of men, education, laws, and a generalized view discussing the phenomenon in other countries and continents, the legal situation in industrial countries. Peller then advances theses on the origin of excision, such as birth control, social distinction, defining gender, masking. She then qualifies the phenomenon in the light of gender, religion, and sexuality by relating female mutilation to male mutilation, the interplay of ´body and mind´, European concepts of sexuality and the societal construction of sexuality. Appendices include summaries of the juridical situation in Germany, a table of data, and Arbore terms.
Keywords: Arbore, genital mutilation, female cutting, sexuality and ritual, ritual mutilation, status and ritual, passage rites, excision, incision, gender and ritual, medical anthropology